When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the international community drew a line in the sand and did its all – with the United Nations authorization, to expel him from the tiny defenseless emirate. The Iraqi aggression did not stand because it was a blatant land grab by an unsavory character, who has shown his true colors as a brutal repressive tyrant against his own citizens – shi’a and Kurd and anyone else who disagreed with him. In his years of warfare against Iran and his own citizens he had used chemical weapons – most of which are supposed to be banned under various international conventions.
Then came the Kurdish shi’a uprisings in the hopes that the US and the rest of the guardians of propriety would do the right thing and take the fight all the way to Baghdad – regime change. When George H. W. Bush stopped at the border, the massacre of the wishful rebels began in earnest. That is when the no-fly zone went into effect and suppressed Saddam Hussein’s air superiority. But on the ground, much atrocity was committed – as the international community looked the other way. It took almost a decade later for that regime change to come about at the hands of George W. Bush, who made no apologies for the doctrine that the world would be a better place without Saddam Hussein who, after all, had planned to have President Bush, the father, assassinated when he visited Kuwait. That decision to take out Saddam Hussein cost The United States tremendous capital in the Middle East, Islamic World, and among many who believed that the war was unnecessary and unlawful under the U.N. Charter, not to mention under the U.S. Constitution and the 1974 War Powers Act.
The ingredients of the “G. W. Bush Doctrine” are easily discernable: a dictator, generally disliked, who uses force – especially military force – against its own population to suppress socio-economic, cultural, religious and/or political cravings – and who has given evidence of further brutality if not stopped deserves to go by all means necessary – preferably under a United Nations mandate on the pretext of endangerment of international or regional peace and security and, if not, still under U.N. mandate for humanitarian reasons or just by a coalition of the willing with no permission from the world body.
The United States involvement in Libya is fateful reenactment of the Bush Doctrine, and any characterization of it as an Obama “thing” would be headline grabbing by the Obamites and simply theft of intellectual property.
Three questions arise – first, why not take out the other disliked tyrants by instituting military actions that help armed insurrections to advance on the seat of power? The answer is that no armed insurrection by protesters – like the one in Libya’s — has occurred as yet in any part of the Middle East this season.
Second, should Kadhafi be spared? Arguably not: for one thing a wounded snake, bent on retaliation against the West and his own people is far more dangerous than any backlash that the international community will suffer in doing him in – this is the theory of slaying the wounded snake. But then – get rid of Kadhafi and the pro-Kadhafi hyper-nationalists in Libya will make out the victorious rebels as a Western puppet neo-colonial regime and will do their all for a very, very long time to seize power either by radical and/or militant politics. This is what the disaffected political classes in Iran did in the early 1960s and later in 1978-1979 to overthrow a system that they had made out as a Western puppet.
The third question is what should a regime that has the makings of a Saddam or Kadhafi – in other words a candidate for the application of the Bush Doctrine – do to ward off any military intervention designed to debunk it? Nuclear weapons – acquire them and do so fast and in very many numbers. Is it a coincidence that the international community has not done squat with respect to North Korea?
With this Libya adventure, the world has just become a more dangerous place. The Arab League, comprised of more dictatorial regimes than liberal democracies, has no problem asking for a no-fly zone knowing that it will probably topple one of their own. The United Nations Security Council passes a no-fly resolution with only 3 of the permanent members voting for it. And those in charge of the no-fly zone and the enforcement of embargo embark on actions that are designed to precipitate a regime change – a rather liberal interpretation of the mandate.
In this sort of a lawless world, those who come to power by such means should heed the advice that they too can be swept away thusly if they do not dance to the tune of those who installed them. But then nobody ever got rich quick taking the long view – just like the Wall Street — get it now while it’s hot and pay the price later, if at all.